The 2016 Republican convention was packed with skeptics, including me.

Nearly 100 percent of the vast throng of journalists in attendance doubted that candidate Donald Trump could win, including me. Trump had fervent supporters, but it was oh so easy to find delegates who thought the party was hurtling toward a 1964-style catastrophe.

Some longtime party loyalists simply refused to believe Trump’s promises — especially his commitment to make appointments to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts in the mold of justice Antonin Scalia. Would he truly fund the military? What did he know of deregulation or national security? Could his aggressive, bare-knuckled style of counterpunching offend everyone before the ballots were cast?

Polls didn’t predict a blowout, but smart guys with models had Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning at 85 percent or even higher.

Republicans had a terrific time in Cleveland — it’s a great city for a convention (but it’s close to my hometown and I’m biased) — but the conventional wisdom that “Trump was doomed” dominated the convention.

So it’s a shame that the Charlotte convention is off. What a contrast it would have been to the gathering in Cleveland — full of if not converts then astonished party regulars. “By God, he delivered,” they’d find a hundred ways to say. Almost all media elites still loathe Trump, even more intensely than four years ago. It’s hard to find broadcasts on stations other than Fox News that are remotely fair, though a handful of major figures remain balanced. Former Trump skeptics like me have been persuaded that he will do what he promises. But he won’t change. A second Trump term will be rhetorically the same as the first. Military budgets will be the same. Judicial nominees the same. Deregulation efforts will continue. Taxes will stay where they are.

In a second Trump term, confrontation with the Chinese Communist Party would sharpen, and possibly increase, as a clear-eyed appraisal of the CCP takes root. Tariffs on our allies that unhinge traditional free-traders should fade, but those ringing China will remain as our Navy’s buildup continues. Our exit from Afghanistan will be completed and our footprint in Iraq reduced. The peace accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is the first fruit of Trump’s peace plan for the region; the deal itself was birthed from the regional yawn that followed after Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump himself may or may not relax in a second term. The FBI machinations against Trump — though limited to a handful of actors — and the absurdity of the Mueller investigation and impeachment proceedings have become clear. Notice how little time the Democrats spent on these last week? The virus will recede, driven back by new therapies if not a vaccine. The regard most Americans have for themselves and others will end politicization of the pandemic. No matter who wins in November, schools will reopen and commerce (except for that which has permanently migrated online) will return to the streets. The astonishing pace of housing starts in July is a critical revealing detail. The “pent-up” demand the president predicted in the spring has arrived, just like the expected V-shaped rebound in the markets. Employment is returning. We have to plan for the next virus outbreak; others are certain to follow. If Trump closes the borders again, no one will call him xenophobic.

When the border wall is complete, perhaps even sooner, regularization not just of “dreamers” but of all nonviolent immigrants in the country can proceed. Trump has been ready to strike that deal for four years. Manufacturing incentives are poised to draw factories back to the heartland, and Big Tech will find it necessary to invest in America, not faraway countries.

Later, politics will shift toward 2024 as a dozen Republicans begin to position themselves to succeed Trump and as AOC — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) — completes her lightning takeover of the Democratic Party, presumably beating Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) in 2022 as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) exits stage way left. The Trump realignment would be complete.

That’s what would have been the discussion in Charlotte or Jacksonville, Fla., and it still is the discussion among the center-right talking heads. Manhattan and Beltway media elites remain largely unaware or purposefully indifferent to the vast changes Trump has overseen, so blinded are they by rage at him personally that they have abandoned journalism for vendetta.

Their anger doesn’t matter. Donald Trump won’t change. Neither will his policies nor the lasting benefits they have brought. The cost of the pandemic is high, but fair Americans don’t blame Trump. They are calculating their future security, prosperity and, crucially, freedom. Freedom is the undervalued variable in 2020 election calculations. Americans love their freedom. And Trump, like every GOP nominee of my lifetime, is freedom’s candidate.

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